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Custom Aboriginal Art in Australia essay paper sample

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In both articles of Possum Skins Cloaks by Helen Gibbins, and the contemporary developments by Howard Morphy, both writers express the Australian Aboriginal cultures and their work of art. The Australian Aborigines have been marketing art for many years. Art is one way of expressing the individual or group identity. The Aborigines art have kept the past alive, and maintained its relevance to the present through responding to the new circumstances. The aborigines cannot be separated from the work of the European colonization in art, which began in the midst of the 17th century. Howard Morphy and Helen Gibbins reveal the great varieties of Aboriginal art. They reveal what it means to the artist and what it symbolizes to the users about the societies that produce them. Both authors survey varied art work across the region of Australia. They present different art, some of which are documented in the museum collections throughout the globe. Gibbins and Morphy sheds light on the Aboriginal people’s lifestyles and their richness as well as dynamism of the art, which is one of their most enduring cultures across the globe.

Comparisons of the Writers’ Positions


Morphy and Gibbins in their articles reveal the work of art, especially for the Australian Aboriginals and their cultures. Their position of writing their work is to reveal the way art has been creative done, since the colonial time and the way it has changed in the modern time. Viewing the work of art is quite compatible with viewing something else. Art has been inextricably connected with the market specially both in an economical and a cultural value creation process. The exhibition in the museum of the Southern Australia is one of the excellent examples of the discourse over the indigenous art. The acceptance of the Western art works in the art gallery has not been simply a belated recognition, but it has been a challenge in shifting the art definition in the Western art. The Aboriginals continue to generate different kinds of art that threatens to disrupt the pre-existing values. Thus, the Australia Aboriginals have kept producing figurative carvings and items that have gripped the imaginations on the European art world.

Moreover, Morphy and Gibbins reveal the way art has been used as a representation of a specific culture and the way the indigenous people have kept the past alive. This is because the aboriginal people have maintained their art work of the past alive, and they have still maintained it up to the present. They have maintained their past art design, thus responding to the new circumstances. Their work cannot be separated from the European colonization. The anthropology of art looks as if the time has been squeezed between and distorted by the art market. The aboriginal art has been separated from the western art work especially on the way art galleries are displayed in places such as museums. Both authors emphasize the way art has been used as a representation of a particular culture across the globe. Much of the aboriginal cultures produced art work in a form of body paintings, stone sculptures or ceremonial constructions. For instance, the museum collections in Australia have varied figurative carvings and many items, some of which existed in the European art world.


However, both articles reveal some differences in their work of writing.  In the article of Gibbins, the author reveals the way the Aboriginal people of the Southern Australia have be survived from the 19th century up to the present time through art work. The author emphasizes the way these people have been making possum skin cloaks, which have been presented in many museum galleys across the globe.  The archaeological research studies that have been carried out throughout the Southern and Eastern Australia have tried to shade light on the lifestyles of Aboriginal people with the relation of the possum skin cloak. Gibbins’ book concentrates on the aboriginal people and their art work of the possum skin cloaks. Furthermore, the author analyses the way possum skin cloak was made, and the way the Indigenous communities of the South Eastern Australia shared the knowledge of possum skin cloak making.

Moreover, Gibbins concentrate more on the way possum cloak making in the modern society is expressed regarding to the country’ perception. The author analyses the way this kind of art contributes to the construction of the identity, which emerges from the sense of the place. The place is taken as a location beyond the space. Thus, the writer takes a phenomenological approach in providing an argument that the knowledge of doing something begins from the information that comes through the senses. Thus, she reveals the way the art work of possum skin cloak making began. The author analyses the way the possum skin cloak was made by some people through viewing their environment. For instance, the artist made their designs of art work through viewing the particular environment that held cultural meaning to them. Thus, through the environmental awareness sense, they made something out of it, because they were culturally determined.

The article of Morphy is somehow different from that of Gibbins. This is because the author concentrates more on the changes that have taken place on the art work. He concentrates more on the modern developments especially the way the modern Aboriginals art has been accepted into the western art world. Furthermore, the author reflects the change that has taken place from the primitive art to the modern art since the beginning of the 20th century. He emphasizes the way the Australian Aboriginals has played roles in the development of the Western art practice. Most of the Australian artists have been influenced by the Indigenous artists who have inspired them in their work. 

Additionally, Morphy analyses the way the art galleries reflect the work of non-European work incorporated in the Western art world. The objects were exhibited in the same way as those of the Western artworks in order to be appreciated in the market. They were exhibited regarding the stylistic sets and their influence in the art gallery. The author analyses the way the objects were arranged and selected through following the criteria of authenticity established in the European market. For instance, one of the criteria was the type of object that could have influenced the Western artists. This article focuses more on the contemporary development of the art work. It reveals the way the primitive art collections have changed overtime. Thus, the modern art is now replacing the art work of the Aboriginal people.

Ways through which the Topic Relates with the General Themes

The topic is relevant to the issues associated with the display or market of Aboriginals in Australia in varied ways. First, the contemporary aboriginal work of art was taught to be contaminated by the European art work. Thus, the modern art bark paintings were treated with suspicion because they have always been made for sale. This is the reason the ethnography department of the British museum delayed to purchase any bark paintings until the late 19th century. Moreover, it is the reason that explains why Australian galleries, as well as the museums have such poor collections of bark art of earlier mid-twenty century. The aboriginal art displayed in the museum and galleries were interpreted as something associated with the ancient times life.  Thus, the work of the Aboriginal people in the market was seen as not the true work of art.

However, the contemporary Aboriginal art, which emerged as a kind of art in Australia, challenged the primitive art. This is because of the living nature of the art and the artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art. The only people who previously allocated to such art work in the museums and galleries were the tourists. The new type of art collections included from all the regions of Australia and they were displayed in various art museums and galleys. Most of the art objects were the work of the Aboriginal traditions, thus part of the trajectory that can be traced back from the pre-colonial era. The work displayed in the museums included the art of Independent European traditions, which influenced the White Australian art. The aboriginal art represented the dynamic and varied traditions, especially those of political art.

The Indigenous people used popular expressions in identifying their work of art. For instance, the possum skin cloak had a popular name among the people of the Western Victoria or the Southern Wales who are part of the Latrobe valley. In his community, the cloak Maloga was one of the art designs, which was made by Treahna Hamm and Darroch Lee whose events are part of the Yorta Yorta community. The cloak provides a narrative of the Yorta Yorta community moving away from the homeland of Dhungula to Maloga. This is the reason most of the art designs were made as representation of something or an incidence taking place in a particular environment. Thus, the cloak reveals a significant event that impacted the lives of the Yorta Yorta community while they were under the European administration. The design of the cloak relates to the social relationships found on most of the cloaks.

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